Sprouting fenugreek.

Do you grow your own sprouts?

If I’m not sprouting some kind of seed or another, I’ve usually got a batch or two of microgreens on the go. I don’t have the space to go all out, so the amounts I’m growing are tiny – enough for a couple of sandwiches, perhaps, or to throw into a stir fry at the very end of cooking. I’m constantly resowing and trying new types of crops – it’s like year ’round seed trials on a miniature scale.

I’ve sprouted fenugreek seeds several times before, but I haven’t had a chance to write about them until now (partly because I keep eating them before photographing them – oops!). These guys are super-easy to sprout and pack a spicy-sweet punch that is perfect for so many dishes.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum, called “methi” in India) is a plant of Mediterranean origin, and is widely grown throughout Asia and Europe. It’s a common staple of Indian cooking, where the fresh or dried leaves and the whole seeds are used in a wide range of dishes. A member of the Fabaceae family, this annual reaches about 60 cm tall and prefers to be grown in fertile, slightly acidic soil. Apparently you have to sow fenugreek directly into the ground or containers, as plants do not like to be transplanted. It seems that many people opt to sprout the seeds or grow them as microgreens, as I do.

If you’ve never sprouted seeds before, there are some great resources online: try the information on this website for the Canadian company Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds. I’ve tried both the tray method and the jar method (and had more success with the latter with most crops), but really, the most important things to remember with sprouting is to always use organic, untreated seed, always rinse seeds with filtered water, and ensure your jars, trays, etc. are spotlessly clean. And, eat your sprouts as soon as possible! Most can only be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

(Speaking of eating, fenugreek sprouts are marvellous as an addition to Sweet Potato and Chickpea Hummus…and if you want the recipe for that, please check out my blog post for Grit.com.  YUM!).  🙂

Have you ever grown fenugreek (as a sprout or otherwise)?  What types of sprouts are your favourites to grow? 

Fenugreek sprouts FP

Jump for jicama.

Another entry in my unofficial “unfamiliar tuber” series ;), Pachyrhizus erosus ‘Agua’ (jicama, also known as yam bean or Mexican turnip) graced my dinner plate for the first time last night.  Native to Mexico and Central and South America, and widely cultivated in the Philippines, Indonesia, China and southeast Asia, jicama is a member of the legume (Fabaceae) family and bears an edible root that looks sort of like a large brown turnip.  Peel the thick, dry skin away and you have a watery, starchy white vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked.  The funny thing about jicama is that it keeps its crunchy texture no matter how it is prepared – it’s like water chestnuts that way.  It’s a bit on the sweet side, but I think you really need to marry it with other flavours to truly enjoy it – apparently in Mexico, it’s commonly served raw with chilies and a dash of lime juice.   I roasted mine in a little olive oil, with garlic, cracked pepper, and rosemary – yum!

As befitting a legume, jicama grows up to 5 metres long on twining vines, and can be trained to climb a trellis, or allowed to creep as a groundcover.  Blue or white flowers resemble those of peas, but to encourage the plants to direct energy to the production of roots, flowers must be pinched off.  (Bear in mind that all parts of jicama aside from the tubers are poisonous, so it’s necessary to wear gloves when deadheading.  The seeds actually contain a natural form of rotenone, a common pesticide ingredient).    Our northern Canadian climate isn’t warm enough to successfully grow jicama:  up to 9 months of sun, heat, and even moisture are required to produce decent-sized roots.  (“9 months of sun and heat” – sounds like the best tropical vacation EVER!).  Pachyrhizus erosus usually forms roots that weigh up to 2 kg; the ones you pick up at the grocery store normally hover around the half a kilogram mark.  (A record root weighing 23 kg was produced in 2010 in the Philippines by a related jicama species, Pachyrhizus tuberosus).

Give this refreshing taste of the tropics a go in your kitchen!

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See Garden Guides and Food Reference for more jicama fun.